75% of women suffer from it. 

48% of women say their relationships suffer because of it.

The average woman is likely to experience 3,000 days of it in her lifetime.

What am I talking about? Yep, the dreaded PMS.

As I’m writing this, it’s the day before my period and (don’t kill me) I’m feeeling really good. The usual luteal phase stuff is going on, like being a bit more introverted and actually enjoying the time I get to spend in front of my computer, but the typical PMS symptoms haven’t been part of my life for a long time.

And guess what? They don’t have to be a part of yours!

Did you know the most common reason for PMS is actually an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone? If you read my last two posts, that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise considering that optimal levels of progesterone are also associated with stable moods, fewer food cravings, and less bloating.

If you suffer from PMS, one of the best ways to lessen your symptoms is to take a good look at your diet. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1) Reduce inflammatory foods

Less inflammation leads to better ovulation, which means more progesterone. The more you can avoid sugar, caffeine, wheat, and dairy throughout your cycle, the less PMS you’re likely to experience as you approach your period. For a lot of women, eliminating cow’s dairy specifically can make a big difference.

2) Reduce or eliminate alcohol

Alcohol interferes with progesterone’s soothing effect on our brains and is also associated with premenstrual anxiety, mood disorders, and headaches. I’ve noticed that alcohol affects me differently depending on where I am in my cycle, but avoiding it in the week leading up to my period is always a good idea.

3) Balance your blood sugar by eating protein for breakfast and eat evenly throughout the day

Hangry anyone? If you want stable moods, you need stable blood sugar. The best way to do that is to start the day off with protein, fat, and fiber and to eat every four hours throughout the day.  Some examples include: a spinach omelette cooked in butter with sliced tomatoes and avocados on the side; chicken stir fry with broccoli, bell peppers, onions, and carrots; wild-caught salmon with grilled zucchini and quinoa.

4) Increase fiber in your diet from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains (preferably gluten free)

Aim for a minimum of four cups of vegetables daily, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and bok choy. Carrots have also been found to pull out excess estrogen from the body resulting in less PMS.  Fiber is especially important for women because if we’re not having a bowel movements every morning, we’re not eliminating the excess estrogen that was metabolized by the liver the night before.  Staying hydrated and eating a minimum of 25 grams a day will keep things running smoothly.

5) Increase Omega-3 fatty acids with wild-caught fish like wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and sardines have the added bonus of also being high in calcium. My usual lunch is a big green salad with lots of colorful vegetables, a sprinkling of seeds, and a can of mackerel or sardines.  If you aren’t a fan of oily fish, make sure to take a high quality Omega-3 supplement that includes DHA and EPA to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

When it comes to PMS, diet is just the beginning, but it does make a difference.

What about you? Is PMS something that you deal with on a regular basis? What symptoms do you notice most?